Burn: Michael Faraday's Candle

illus. by Peter Willis. 32p. Mims House. Feb. 2016. Tr $24.99. ISBN 9781629440446; pap. $9.99. ISBN 9781629440453; ebk. $4.99. ISBN 9781629440460.
Gr 1–4—Adapted from scientist Michael Faraday's own "Chemical History of a Candle," this is the story of one of the Royal Institution's Christmas lectures for children, specifically, Faraday's 1848 talk and demonstration on candles. The lecture series began in 1825 and has continued to present day, with a pause during World War II. The story starts with descriptions of the excitement of the crowd, the sights and sounds of the London streets, and the lecture hall, structured for the crowd's ease of observation and safety. Faraday guides the crowd, describing what is happening and the thought process a scientist uses when making observations. A diagram aids in the discussion of what happens when a candle burns. The main takeaway is that readers should always ask and answer the questions "What is the cause? Why does it occur?" when making observations. The book is whimsically illustrated in various media and incorporates printed text into the artwork. However, the text, which includes challenging vocabulary, British spellings, and, occasionally, odd sentence structures left over from the adaptation of the original lecture, makes the intended audience unclear.
VERDICT Despite a few missteps, this is a potential selection for readers who will have the opportunity to perform experiments afterward or those beginning to learn the process of scientific inquiry. Also, a good option for fans of Jacqueline Briggs Martin's Snowflake Bentley (HMH, 1998).

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